ISLAMABAD: An Italian and a Russian climber stranded on a treacherous peak in the Karakoram ranges were rescued by army helicopters after they got injured amid bad weather, officials said on Monday.
Francesco Cassardo, a 30-year-old doctor from the northern Piedmont region of Italy, and Konstantin Sidorov of Russia were shifted from Gasherbrum peak to an army base in nearby Skardu for medical attention.
Mr Cassardo gave up on reaching the 6,955-metre summit of Gasherbrum VII and was returning to base camp on Saturday when he fell, according to the Italian media.
His climbing companion, Carlo Alberto Cimenti, 43, said Cassardo had hit several rocks before stopping at around 6,300 metres. He had “a broken femur as well as neck trauma,” said an army official.
Rescue helicopters were unable to reach Cassardo over the weekend, citing rarefied air. On Sunday, four climbers from Poland and Canada arrived to help, bringing the injured climber down to the base camp at 5,900 metres on an improvised stretcher.
There two Pakistani army helicopters landed at dawn on Monday and took Cassardo to an army base in nearby Skardu.
“Great news we were expecting. Invaluable work done by army helicopters, as usual,” tweeted Italy’s ambassador to Pakistan Stefano Pontecorvo.
Karrar Haidri, the secretary of the Alpine Club of Pakistan, said the army’s “daring rescue” on Monday got both safely off the mountain.
Hundreds of local and foreign climbers scale different mountains and peaks in northern Pakistan every year; accidents are common because of avalanches and sudden changes in weather.
Last month Pakistan rescued four Italian and two Pakistani mountaineers after they were stranded following an avalanche in Ishkoman Valley. A third Pakistani member of the expedition was killed.